Correlation and Causation

This is just awesome:

Hockey fighting

I’ve come to really enjoy hockey in recent years and go to the Carolina Hurricanes college night whenever I can.  I even watch  it some on TV every now and then.  What I enjoy is the amazing display of speed and skill.  I even appreciate a good check.  What I could completely do without is the fighting.  Saddest part is how many of the fans seem to relish hockey specifically for this aspect.  Isn’t that what boxing is for?  I’ll take a great 3 on 2 rush up the ice instead.  I still remember seeing a minor league hockey game in Columbus back in the grad school days (and before the Blue Jackets) and the game was had no flow and was constantly interrupted and the fans loved the fights more than anything else.  I hardly watched any hockey at all for the next decade.

Anyway, really nice column by George Vescey following up on the recent reporting of how brain injuries from repeated brawling may have led to the premature death of hockey enforcer Derek Bogaard:

In this eye-opening series, Boogaard was described by family and friends and colleagues as a bewildered soul who was propelled toward the limelight by his huge size. He could not skate very well as a young player, but there was a place for him in the spectacle. As he and his fellow enforcers put it, what else was he going to do in life that would reward him so spectacularly?

We need to acknowledge this up front: It was not just the leaders of the N.H.L. who encouraged these grubby fights. It was also the people on the other side of the barricades — the fans who cheer the punches and the blood [emphasis mine], the members of the news media who revel in the violence, and the enablers who ran the entire hockey system while Derek Boogaard’s brain was being destroyed.

Hockey will get my full respect as a sport when it finally bans fighting.  Not that I’m holding my breath.  Sad to think it might actually make it less popular.

Presidential candidates and parenting double-standards

Well, when a friend linked to a blog post about the double standard for presidential candidates of special needs kids, boy was I excited.  In this case, PunditMom compares media/elite treatment of Sarah Palin to Rick Santorum:

What’s the difference between being a political mom and a political dad?  Ask Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum.

When Sarah Palin ran for vice president in 2008, she drew fire for more than just her views on the economy and reproductive rights.  At the time John McCain chose her to be his running mate, her son Trig, who was born with Down Syndrome, was only a few months old.  She faced severe criticism from all sides about whether she was being a neglectful mother by taking on the 24/7 commitments of a national campaign, which included the possibility of becoming the first woman vice president of the United States…

Fast forward a few years to the current campaign season where one GOP presidential contender also has a young special needs child.  This time that candidate is a dad.  The public response to Rick Santorum, the father of a special needs daughter, and his decision to run for president has been a whole heck of a lot different from the one Palin received.

Santorum speaks often about his youngest daughter Isabella, who is three-and-a-half years old and has a genetic disorder called Trisomy 18.  Half of all children born with Trisomy 18 die at birth and few live much longer than a year, so his daughter’s story is an exceptional one…

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, no one is suggesting that Santorum is being a bad father for choosing the rigors of a presidential campaign over the demands of taking part in the daily care of a special needs child.  No one is questioning whether he ought to be in the race at all nor is anyone suggesting that he’s a neglectful parent, as people did with Palin.  In fact, much of the media coverage of his daughter has focused on how Santorum says Bella’s condition has been a motivating factor for him to pursue the presidency.

Alas, I was disappointed.  For one, Sarah Palin was a major national political figure who was the actual vice-presidential nominee.  Nobody is saying much of anything at all about Rick Santorum.  Is he even over 2% in the polls?  I still think Bamberger has a good point in here, but since this is an apples to rutabagas comparison, it way oversells it.  To discuss the “severe criticism” of Palin and then only be able to link to a People magazine interview that includes one question on it (that surely would have been asked whether Trig was special needs or not) and than to link to a blog I’ve never heard of, does not exactly suggest that this was a major (even modest) theme of Palin coverage.  Show me the NYT Op-Ed link, and I’ll feel a little more convinced.

On the Santorum issue, maybe I should encourage her to link back here because I’ll go ahead and criticize Santorum for running under the circumstances.  If Bella’s needs are truly as demanding as implied, damn straight no parent– mom or dad– should be undertaking the rigors of running for president under the circumstances.  Especially if they have no chance and it could thus be considered a vanity campaign.  So,there’s your Santorum criticism.

Honestly, I’ve always felt like, yes, women do get criticized for these issues too much, but men, not enough. I absolutely cannot imagine leaving behind a young child (heck, or even a teenager) to leave my family to go serve a political job far away.  I always point out to my Gender & Politics class that I thought it was really telling that back when John Kasich was a powerful congressman it was treated as just a fun political story that he had twins while in office.   You know that so would not have been the case if he were a woman.  I would’ve been just fine with Kasich coming in for a little criticism.

Photo of the day

Great gallery of Afghanistan photos at The Big Picture.  This one’s not actually my favorite, that would be this, but this one I actually have something to say about:

Judging by the ponytail coming out the back there, I’m pretty sure that that’s a woman under all that battle gear.  Regardless of what the official rules are, women are in combat.  And, actually, the official rules only bar women from ground combat anyway.  It’s certainly combat when you are flying a fighter jet or launching a cruise missile from a ship.  Anyway, we recently had a really good discussion about this issue, and there was basically nobody arguing that women should still be barred from combat.  The most forceful advocate of ending the ban was the student in ROTC.  I suspect, like gay marriage, there’s a huge age division here (and, actually, a quick google search finds, yes indeed, that is the case).  Just one more example of the evolution of social attitudes.

The Newt debate

As you know, I so love following the campaign on the Intrade markets.   Nate Silver had the great idea to take a look at Intrade prices immediately prior to the Republican debate last night as well as a few hours after.

Damn.  That’s pretty dramatic for one debate.  Slate’s Dave Weigel sums up just why Gingrich did so well:

Gingrich needed to impress them. He did. Twenty minutes into the debate, Mitt Romney was prompted to criticize the former speaker, and he let loose with four attacks on his record: Crazy idea about lunar colonies, unfair tax plan, musings about children working at age 15, life as a career politician. Gingrich announced that he was going to punch back on all four points, and swiveled to face Romney.

“You’d have been a 17-year career politician,” he said, “if you hadn’t been beaten by Teddy Kennedy.”

It was the first time he’d attacked another candidate on the debate stage, after months of attacking debate moderators for even trying to make the candidates fight. Didn’t matter. It was easy, but it was a direct hit to Romney’s solar plexus on a bit of trivia that every reporter covering the race has been joking about.

“Losing to Teddy Kennedy is probably the best thing I could have done,” said Romney, after the audience had lapped up the attack line. “It put me back into the private sector.”

That was a fine response, but over the rest of the night Romney revealed that he really isn’t as good at Gingrich at dishing this out. No one is—not in this field. No one thinks as quickly on his feet, and no one tosses up so many decoys to escape set traps.

If presidencies could be won solely in primary debate performance, Newt would seem to have this in the bag.  Alas, it isn’t so.  No here’s one Intrade bet I would love to sell short– right now Romney is at 20% to be president and Newt is at 18%.  Now, as much as I like to talk about Intrade, that is totally nuts.  The idea that Newt is essentially as likely to beat Obama in a general election as Romney is, is truly ludicrous.  I used to think it would be a great idea to sell Newt short on the nomination.  Now, I’m really not so sure.  Even if Ezra Klein is convinced there’s no way he’ll be the nominee.   But I’m perfectly willing to come and and say there’s almost no way that Newt can win a general election.  The “almost” refers to the fact that if for some reason (here’s looking at you Eurozone) the economy truly tanks, even Michelle Bachmann could beat Obama.

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